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Here's Why Forcing Little Girls to Hug Is Not OK

SheKnows logo SheKnows 21/11/2017 Marquita Harris

Here's Why Forcing Little Girls to Hug Is Not OK: Do you tell your daughter to ‘go give Grandpa a hug’? Don't © Ghislain & Marie David De Lossy/Getty Images Do you tell your daughter to ‘go give Grandpa a hug’? Don't Forget cookies and badges. This holiday season, the Girl Scouts of America has a special message for parents of young girls. In a lengthy post published on the GSA website titled "She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays," the organization delved into the culture of consent, particularly around what we teach young girls.

“Have you ever insisted, ‘Uncle just got here — go give him a big hug!’ or ‘Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss,’ when you were worried your child might not offer affection on her own?" an excerpt read. "If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future," the GSA writes.

<p>Update: In the days since <a href="http://www.refinery29.com/2016/10/125759/donald-trump-sexual-offensive-comments-recording">a video surfaced</a> of Donald Trump making lewd and offensive comments about sexual assault, <a href="http://www.refinery29.com/2016/10/125801/twitter-trump-women-not-okay-hashtag">thousands of women</a> have come forward to share their own stories about assault. It's past time to acknowledge that sexual assault happens to women too often, and to put the onus on men to put a stop to it. With that in mind, we're re-publishing our interviews with 14 men about how they learned the importance of consent. This story was originally published on September 7, 2016.</p><p>It's a pretty straightforward concept: You don't put your hands on anyone without their permission. And the lack of a "no" does not automatically mean a "yes."</p><p>Yet, debates over consent seem to permeate our society. With the worrying <a href="http://www.refinery29.com/2016/08/120512/college-sexual-assault-campus-rape-culture">statistics</a> of campus sexual assault (most recently exemplified in the headlines regarding a <a href="http://www.refinery29.com/2016/06/112838/brock-turner-6-months-jail-rape-letter">sexual assault at Stanford</a> and the <a href="http://www.refinery29.com/2016/08/120359/birth-of-a-nation-nate-parker-college-rape-controversy">controversy</a> surrounding The Birth Of A Nation star and director, Nate Parker), it seems that we unfortunately still live in a world that, far too often, places the blame on victims instead of emphasizing the importance of teaching people (<a href="https://sapac.umich.edu/article/196">mostly men</a>) not to rape.</p><p>It's a world in which we jump to blaming women for "<a href="http://www.refinery29.com/2016/04/107570/asking-for-it-victim-blaming-video">asking for it</a> " instead of examining what men can do to avoid being a part of the problem. It's also a world in which someone is sexually assaulted in America <a href="https://rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem">every two minutes</a>.</p><p>It's time we started making consent a vital part of sex education — and emphasizing how crucial it is to get an enthusiastic "yes" from a sexual partner before continuing. With something this important, it's better to be safe than sorry.</p><p>So we talked to 14 men (Refinery29 employees and readers) about how they learned the value of consent. Their answers are powerful, enlightening, and, hopefully, indicative of why sexual consent is so essential. Read ahead for their stories.</p><p>If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the <a href="https://hotline.rainn.org/online/terms-of-service.jsp">RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline</a> at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).</p><p>The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more<a href="http://www.refinery29.com/sex-school">here</a>.</p> 14 Men Tell Us How They Learned The Value Of Consent The organization then makes a strong argument that we need to rethink how we teach kids affection. As adults, we’ve come to understand this feeling occurs naturally, and when expressing it to a loved one, it’s consensual, never forced. However, when it comes to kids, it's not uncommon for parents or even teachers to tell girls they must hug a friend or relative — even someone who gives them the willies. Some parents even suggest kids just feign affection to get through the event. But what, exactly, does that teach them? How is forcing a child to hug someone when their instincts are telling them otherwise anything but totally damaging?

“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older. Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed and when to go to you for help.”

For nearly six weeks, U.S. news headlines have been overwhelmed by allegations of sexual assault (that and gun violence, that is — welcome to America). Women and men have come forward in droves with lurid tales of harassment and unwelcome “affection” from men and women in positions of power. The full impact of this moment in our cultural history has yet to be seen. However, it’s clear that many of us need to rethink our complicity in so many ways. So why shouldn't this begin with our children?

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